In Michigan, Republican Lena Epstein said this week that the Franklin Hills Country Club near Detroit uses a different ruler to measure her Democrat opponent than it uses for her candidacy. Epstein and Democrat Suneel Gupta are running for the 11th Congressional District of Michigan. Suneel Gupta is the brother of CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta. While Democrat Gupta earlier held a fundraiser at the country club, Epstein faced backlash from members for her planned fundraiser. Epstein was forced to find another venue for her event after facing considerable opposition on social media, which has since been deleted. The club board voted to cancel the event, which had been planned for June 27. Her event was held at Andiamo, a restaurant in nearby Bloomfield Hills that features Italian cuisine.
Epstein was co-chair of Donald Trump’s campaign in Michigan and is running to represent a swing district outside Detroit.
Epstein compared her experience to the leftist targeting of White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. Nielsen left a Washington DC restaurant last Friday after being surrounded by vociferous hecklers, Sanders was told to leave a Vermont restaurant because of work at the White House, and Bondi was heckled outside a movie theatre in Tampa.
“It makes me sad that my political beliefs were the reason that the event was cancelled,” said Epstein.
A strong supporter of President Donald Trump, Epstein was questioned over the president’s immigration policies. She told MIRS news service that the reaction to her candidacy is not “just about one fundraiser being cancelled. It represents a much bigger issue we're not facing as a nation.” She said that the “double standards and unfair targeting” of herself and the above-named political figures should not be tolerated, nor should the “hateful rhetoric”of Rep. Maxine Waters be tolerated.
Epstein said that her event was in compliance with club rules and had been confirmed for more than one month. The event was to be hosted by nine club members and eight other sponsors. A non-member, she said, had released the private guest list on social media. Epstein said that the club cancelled the event over security concerns, the number of guests, and money collected for political purposes. Epstein offered some concessions, which include providing her own security team, to no avail.
Epstein is Jewish. Even so, on Facebook, Michael Simon -- the son of a former club president -- linked Epstein and Trump to policies which he wrote appeared "eerily similar to those employed during the Holocaust, the horrors of which many FHCC members' ancestors fled."
Franklin County Club has since indefinitely suspended all political fundraisers on its premises.
Club management could not be reached for comment. In May, the country club was the venue for a fundraiser for Gupta. Gupta tweeted on Wednesday “the people of Michigan’s 11th Congressional District won’t embrace a president who spews hate or a candidate like Lena Epstein who doubles down on it.”
Michigan is holding its primary races on August 7. The incumbent, Rep. David Trott (R) announced this year that he will not stand for re-election in the vulnerable suburban Detroit seat. Local pundits see the general election as a toss-up. According to the Detroit Free Press, State Sen. Mike Kowall is favored by establishment Republicans. He is ideologically similar to Trott, a moderate Republican. He is the only Republican running in the 11th Congressional District who supports a path to citizenship for illegal alien minors. He is trailing Epstein and two other conservative Republicans. Epstein has been mostly self-funded, having raised over $1.5 million total. She is followed by state Rep. Klint Kesto, former state Rep. Rocky Raczkowski, and former U.S. Rep. Kerry Bentivolio, who represented the 11th District from 2013-2014 before being defeated by Trott in a Republican primary. He is dead last in fundraising but has name -recognition in libertarian circles.
Donald Trump and Mitt Romney (R) won the district in 2016 and 2012, respectively, but Barack Obama won it in 2008. Forecasters rate it a “Toss-up.”
Democrat newcomer Suneel Gupta has raised more than $1 million and is facing two Democrat opponents for the August 2 primary. The 11th District, covers parts of Oakland and western Wayne counties near the Detroit city line, leans Republican. Donald Trump won the district by less than 5 points in 2016, leading some handicappers to consider it a toss-up for Democrats this time.